Police urged to admit ‘mistake’ at London Mass

Police stand on the altar at Christ the King Polish church in London after ordering the congregation to leave the Good Friday service due to COVID-19 restrictions (CNS/YouTube)

The head of the Polish Church’s mission in England and Wales has said police abused their powers when they raided a parish church in south London and forcibly halted a Good Friday liturgy. Source: The Tablet.

“The police officer told the priest all London churches were closed – this was not true”, said Msgr Stefan Wylezek, rector of the London-based Polish Catholic Mission.

“After two previous occasion when police arrived at our churches, we received apologies, with an admission that officers had not behaved properly. Police can intervene before or after, but not when a service is taking place. Nor are they allowed to enter churches and interrupt people in their prayers.”

The Polish rector spoke in the wake of the Good Friday incident, during which two uniformed police entered the sanctuary at Balham’s Christ the King church during the Veneration of the Cross and ordered the congregation to disperse immediately or face fines and arrest.

Meanwhile, the parish’s assistant priest said yesterday police had changed their story after the raid, which he said had terrified children serving at the liturgy and left parishioners “distressed and in tears”. He urged police to admit formally that they had made a mistake in taking the action they did.

“Before entering the church, they said we were breaking the law since there was currently a lockdown and we had no right to hold religious gatherings”, said Fr Aleksander Dasik. “But the subsequent police statement clearly realised the officers had acted erroneously and unprofessionally, and talked instead about a lack of masks and social distancing. They clearly didn’t know the legal situation”.

FULL STORY

Police urged to admit ‘mistake’ at Polish Mass (By Jonathan Luxmoore, The Tablet) 

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